Tuesday, 28 July 2009

This one is a nice one

There is always a next one and that one will be a pure winter one and I think I will opt for Kwangde in Nepal. The North Face of Kwangde is classic ground and the summit is just shy of 6200 meters with some superb ice lines finding its way up the face.

The routes in the picture are: (purple line) Extra-Blue Ciel (ED2, Sam Beaugey, Christophe Profit, Andre Rhem, Jerome Ruby, 1995); (green line) Breashears-Lowe Route, 1982; (red line) Normal Routes Have Nothing Extraordinary (ED2 WI 5+, Stéphane Benoist, Frédéric Gottardi, 2006). Source and picture from http://www.climbing.com. There is a few more routes on the face not shown in this picture.

Ines Pappert did a new route last winter that share exit wit the Profit route. I think we will opt for the Lowe or Profit route but who knows where the ice is best formed. At the end of the day that will be the deciding factor. It is defiantly possible to do new routes on the face but again conditions have to be good as well as time to scout so I don't think thats an option for this winter expedition.

Our aim is to do a pure winter accent so we have to arrive in BC after December 21st and top out before March 23rd. I think there is a winter definition according to the Nepal standards that is starting in mid December but Simone Moro and other winter climbers are pushing hard for the UIAA definition and I think they are spot on. Well this is early plans and they depend on my knee recovery but I really want to get some thing done in Himalaya during 2009/2110 so this would be an ideal target as I think Kwangde is a perfect winter mountain.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Where shall one go? Not DOWN!

Well its a far more relevant question than it may appear. After spending the first part of the summer accomplishing less than zero in Pakistan one might ask whats next? Well it will be two independently done MRI scans a possible operation or two and then "rehab". What's next????? What can be done before X-mas in terms of climbing? A few options seams viable as far as climbing is concerned and as long as they don't involve any descents! YES you got it wright NO descents my knees simply cant take any more gravel walking so from now on I will go CLIMBING, not walking. I know that will exclude quite a few nice routes but that's the price I have to pay for this summers adventure.

In a few weeks I guess I will know more about what I can do and what's off limits but I have to get some thing done, so I have looked at Divine Providence (ignoring the decent) and I think I got ideal partners. A Big Wall should be ideal so why not have a go at Zenyatta Mondatta? An exercise like that might come in handy as preparation for this winter or next summer. Then The Young Spider in October before an operation if that's what it will take to get back descending gravel . Ueli Steck told me its SOLID M7 and bad protection so it my become crystal clear to me why this great line is still lacking a repeat from an outside team (as Ueli is the only one who has repeated his own route in winter...).

My knee is actually quite "ok" as long as I don't walk down hill on gravel or rocks. With crampons I do ok, I think... But I will need a few weeks rest and if I'm lucky that will give me some time to get strong again in my fingers. I should do well on sport climbing now as I have lost a bit of fat in due time we will know.


One is not getting that exited by reading the news flow on http://www.mounteverest.net as no one is moving any where. I was sad to reed that the Portuguese climbers Daniela and Paulo failed on G VI they where truly super nice and a summit would have been a well deserved token for them. I hope to see them in the Alps this winter.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Summit push on G3!!!!!!

I just arrived in Islamabad after having been evacuated with a knee injury by the "Fearless Five" a helicopter unit of the Pakistani Army. Don, Bruce, Billy and Guy are at 7300 meters on a attempt to do a new route up G3 from the NW. If the weather stays good my four remaining expedition friends will go for the summit at midnight Pakistani time. If they summit they will be the third or fourth expedition ever to summit G3 and it will be the second route up G3. I wish the guys the best of luck and I will pray for them all night.

I also like to send my regards and best wishes to Philippe Gatta on G1/G2, the Steck family (dude ski with care...), David Hamilton, the Junkies leader Mr Crumpton, and the Portuguese team on G6. All of you be safe and push hard.


Also good luck to Maxout and Vasily who I meet on there way to K2.


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Management meeting at 5000 meter

I attended the Big Expeditions fixed rope meeting today in BC and it was like a comedy for the clueless. The proposition from the Big Boys on the strip is that every team member has to pay to use the fixed ropes going from camp one to the summit on G2. The price is 150 USD or the equivalent in gear, meaning snow stakes or rope.

I went over to listen for pure entertainment reasons as this might well be a once in a life time thing for me. I can’t really see myself going back to a mountain where I have to share parts of it with a bunch of commercial expeditions (well with one possible exception). The issue of payment is kind of stupid in my opinion. If you are a commercial outfitter bringing clients to a mountain where they have little or nothing to do its your problem. If the clients can’t get up or down without the assistance of fixed ropes and they have been sold a mountain holiday to 8000 meters, then it’s the sole responsibility of the outfitter to make sure he delivers. But hey no! They are asking all the other teams to share that cost in some lame form of socialism.

Okay the small teams are piggy backing on the bigger teams, but that’s tough shit for the Big Boys. Live with it and get on with it. The only interesting issue that came up was brought forward by a member of a small Spanish team as he asked what the Big Guys would do if an independent climber got stranded. The issue was not really penetrated but a vague consensus was to be responsible and help out. The only one who gave a straight answer was Phil Cramton from Altitude Junkies as he said he would help out no matter what. I can only wish them the best of luck and pray they all get up and down safe.

Base Camp sucks

Well every single expedition to G1, G2, G3, G4 and G6 are now stuck in Base Camp as a storm is passing through the area for the next 5 days. Lots of snow is expected between 7000 and 8000 meters so this will make for interesting conditions going forward. The next time we hit the slopes we will go for a summit push on one or two of our different options. As I have said a hundred times; condition determines the objective not the ambitions so we will see what we end up trying to do.

Now we are at a phase of the expedition where luck and timing will be critical to getting anything done and we all know it’s impossible to beat the house so it will be interesting to see what we can come out with in the end.

Talking about different phases one goes through on an expedition. There is the talk about food, there are the jokes, the stories, the sex talk and then food again but the one topic that is hardest to deal with is climbing stories. Being a climber on a climbing trip not doing any climbing for weeks is outright suffering. This whole acclimatisation process and approach to the bottom of the face sucks. My next trip has to be to a mountain where the approach is limited to 45 minutes and where you can do some recreational climbing from BC while waiting for the real deal.